University of Pittsburgh

Signatory: Patricia E. Beeson, Provost

Joined: November 2015

Contact: Mark Redfern, Vice Provost for Research

Social Media

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to impact the success of women of color in universities through research and programs.  Specifically, Pitt will focus on the theme of increasing women of color in STEM+ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics + quantitative disciplines such as Economics) graduate studies with the ultimate goal of growing the number of women of color in faculty positions who can mentor the next generation of female students of color. To do so, we will study and refine an existing program that nurtures and supports underrepresented students in the transition into graduate programs. Our research question is: How can we most effectively prepare women of color for success in graduate programs in STEM+ disciplines that will allow them to transition to positions of influence for the next generation?

We will build our initiative around an existing program here at Pitt, called the Hot Metal Bridge Program. The Hot Metal Bridge Program (HMB) is a post-baccalaureate program that was established by the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in the 2010-2011 academic year to prepare minority students and women to enter a PhD program in fields in which these groups are currently underrepresented. HMB students are selected in a competitive process and awarded two terms of support to gain the research and academic experience that will allow them to qualify for admission into a PhD program at Pitt or elsewhere. HMB students are carefully mentored by faculty in their departments and the Manager of Diversity Initiatives for Graduate Studies in the Dietrich School who create an individual plan of study and research for each HMB student. HMB students are recruited for 6 STEM+ programs (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Neuroscience and Psychology), plus English. We have had 56 students in the program, of which 46 (86%) are women.  Of the 40 women who have completed the HMB program, 22 entered PhD programs and 5 entered master’s programs. We will build our efforts around this program. We commit to expanding the HMB program to include greater numbers of women of color, understanding the keys to success through research involving the program, and documenting what we learn to share with other universities nationally.

“We want to do research that has impact, and we think this has the potential for significant impact through understanding how we can get more women of color PhDs into universities.”

Mark S. Redfern, Vice Provost for Research